Foto, Blick in den Ausstellungsraum "Tiersaal"
© SKD / Juergen Loesel
Please note that currently the Böttger Hall and (from 1 August to 21 October 2022) the East Asia Gallery are not accessible.

Catalogue of the Augustan Collection (1710–1763)

At one time the collection of Augustus the Strong and August III, electors of Saxony and kings in Poland, contained almost 10,000 items of porcelain and Böttger stoneware from Meissen, of which just under a fifth is still extant in Dresden. Around 1,500 pieces can be identified in the inventories of the Japanese palace. This part of the historic holdings is presented in sixteen sections.

Böttger stoneware figures

From experiment to expertise

The ease with which Meissen fine stoneware could be shaped made it suitable not only for tableware but also for figural works. At first the modellers explored the potential of this novel material by taking moulds from East Asian and European models. It was only rarely – for example, in the case of the statuette of Augustus the Strong – that sculptors at Dresden were commissioned to make new models for the manufactory.

To the objects

Foto, stehende Guanyin aus Böttgersteinzeug
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Böttger stoneware Guanyin c. 1710/13, inv. no. PE 2373

Mit Blüten belegt und mit Maskarons geschmückt I

Foto, Deckelvase aus Böttgersteinzeug mit Reliefauflagen
© PE 795, Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer

Embellished with blossom and decorated with mascarons I

Many Böttger stoneware pieces are ornamented with relief decoration integrated in the plaster mould, or with applied decorations, some of which were freely modelled and others made with moulds. Such elements were occasionally accentuated with fine gold painting. Like the pieces with engraved or incised decoration, they are among the outstanding creations from the early years of Meissen manufactory.

To the objects

Böttger stoneware with matt or polished surfaces

The charm of simplicity

Hollow ware made of Böttger stoneware with smooth sides that were polished to a sheen or left matt can possess a charming simplicity and great refinement, qualities that lie precisely in this combination of shiny and matt surfaces. Some of the polished pieces are additionally accentuated with gold decoration.

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Foto, quaderförmige Teedose
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Böttger stoneware tea caddy c. 1710/19, inv. no. PE 1699
Black-glazed Böttger stoneware

‘Lacquered like the finest Japanese work’

Black-glazed Böttger stoneware recalls East Asian lacquerware, which in the general passion for all things Chinese was as highly prized as porcelain. Johann Friedrich Böttger came up with the idea of giving the red stoneware a reflective black glaze. Additional polychrome enamel painting heightened the appeal of these objects. 

To the objects

Foto, Flaschenvase mit schwarzer Glasur und farbiger Malerei
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Bottle vase c. 1710/19, inv. no. PE 2557
Porcelain figures I

The first porcelain figures

In addition to tableware and decorative vessels the Meissen manufactory also made figures in white porcelain. Initially moulds were taken from East Asian figures in Augustus the Strong’s collection. The Saxon copies had to hold their own in direct comparison with the originals. However, a number of examples indicate that the new material was of interest to sculptors right from the beginning.

To the objects

Foto, gen Himmel blickender Apostel
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
St John the Apostle c. 1720, inv. no. PE 2191
Unpainted porcelain, c. 1713 to 1730

Embellished with blossom and decorated with mascarons II

The earliest pieces made in the newly invented European white porcelain have no coloured painting. They were ornamented instead like the red Böttger stoneware with relief decoration and applied elements known as ‘Irminger’sche Belege’ (‘Irminger appliques’), which were introduced by Johann Jacob Irminger, who had trained as a goldsmith. The combination of various applied elements resulted in a rich variety of decoration.

To the objects

Foto, unbemaltes Vase mit Reliefdekor
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Vase with relief decoration c. 1713/20, inv. no. PE 2909
Painted porcelain, c. 1715 to 1720

Colourfulness at all costs

From the outset it was the ambitious aim of the Meissen manufactory – and the king – to make the porcelain colourful. Ornamental décors and painting in gold and silver attest to this early experimental period. The colours used were enamels of the kind used, for example, by goldsmiths.

To the objects

Foto, Unterschale mit ornamentaler Goldmalerei
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Saucer with gold painting c. 1715/20, inv. no. PE 926 a
Porcelain with underglaze blue painting

Striving for the ideal blue

Blue-and-white porcelain from East Asia dominated the European market in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century. It is thus unsurprising that Augustus the Strong pressed for the development of a handsome underglaze cobalt blue. However, it proved technically challenging to achieve. Sometimes the blue painting came out of the kiln with precise contours and in a rich, dark blue, while on other occasions it was pale and blurred.

To the objects

Foto, Vase mit plastischer Eidechse
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Bottle vase with underglaze blue painting c. 1725/26, inv. no. PE 2221 a, b

Ostasien als Quelle der Inspiration

Foto, Deckeldose in Muschelform
© PE 616, Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer

East Asia as a source of inspiration

Porcelain from China and Japan was highly sought-after as a rare and exotic luxury commodity in eighteenth-century Europe. The richly varied collection of Augustus the Strong provided an important stimulus for the young Meissen manufactory. Some of the models were copied exactly at Meissen, while others inspired the modellers and painters to create freer interpretations.

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Porcelain from the Hoym-Lemaire affair

Imitation. Forgery? Scandal!

Around 1730 the French dealer Rodolphe Lemaire ordered copies of East Asian porcelain from the Meissen manufactory. Many of them had the crossed swords mark applied over the glaze, which could be ground off later on with the aim of selling these pieces as East Asian originals for huge profits. The affair resulted in a scandal. Confiscated as evidence, the porcelain ended up in the royal collection in the Japanese Palace.

To the objects

Foto, Rückseite eines Tellers
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Palace number and crossed swords in enamel blue Inv. no. PE 1175 b
Porcelain with coloured ground

Framed in colour, accented in gold

The principle behind the coloured ground was adopted from Chinese porcelain. Whether turquoise, blue, yellow, green, purple or peach blossom, the Meissen manufactory experimented with a multitude of monochrome grounds. Most of the grounds had reserves excepted for polychrome painting. With the contrast of the ground colours with the white porcelain body, these vessels made a striking impact.

To the objects

Foto, Flasche mit meergrünem Fond und farbig bemalten Kartuschen
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Sake bottle with sea-green ground c. 1730/34, inv. no. PE 5255
Porcelain with chinoiserie décor

Imagining far-distant lands

Chinoiserie reflects the image that Europeans had constructed of life in the Far East, which they imagined as one of leisure, harmony and abundance. The Meissen manufactory is still famous today for the scenes that were introduced by Johann Gregorius Höroldt and repeated by decorators under his supervision in ingenious variety using underglaze blue or vibrant colours.

To the objects

Foto, Kumme mit fliederfarbenem Fond und chinoiser Malerei
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Chinoiserie painting on a rinsing bowl with lilac ground c. 1731/35, inv. no. PE 7847

European imagery

Foto, Teller mit Bataillenmalerei und Wappendekor
© PE 1540 g, Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Porcelain with European décors

European imagery

Many of the painted Meissen décors derive from European pictorial traditions or incorporate contemporary fashions, for example, flower still lifes, hunting motifs or ‘galant’ landscape scenes. However, just occasionally there are also hints of East Asian décors, for instance in the so-called Coronation Service, whose delicate scattered flowers echo Japanese Kakiemon porcelain.

To the objects

Foto, Teekanne mit Jagddarstellung
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Teapot, presumably painted by J.G. Höroldt 1722, inv. no. PE 7733 a
Animal figures

Friendly creatures and wild beasts

The animal figures of the Meissen modellers Johann Joachim Kaendler and Johann Gottlieb Kirchner are among the most outstanding creations of European porcelain art. Intended for a porcelain menagerie in the Japanese Palace, today they illustrate perfectly how the designers and technicians involved wrestled with the material, and also for two differing approaches to representing animals in the eighteenth century.

To the objects

Foto, Porzellanfigur in Form eines radschlagendes Pfaus
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Peacock by J.J. Kaendler 1734, inv. no. PE 51
Porcelain figures II

Jesters, kings and apostles

Some of the unique highlights of the Dresden Porcelain Collection are monumental figures that were commissioned by the court. These include the almost anecdotal busts of the court jesters Schmiedel and Fröhlich, and the model of the planned larger-than-life-size equestrian statue of August III. Religious figures and groups such as the Death of St Francis Xavier served for the private devotions of the Catholic royal couple.

To the objects

[Translate to English:] Detail, Figur eines römischen Soldaten aus Porzellan
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Soldier from the Crucifixion group by J.J. Kaendler 1743, inv. no. PE 230
Sculptural vases

Sculptural vessel | Vessel sculpture

Some of the more unusual creations from the Meissen manufactory are monumental works such as the grotesque vases that are part vessel and part sculpture. In his ‘Elements’ vases Johann Joachim Kaendler took this ambivalence to extremes. In a tour de force of porcelain modelling the court sculptor presented a narrative staging of the elements of fire, water, air and earth exclusively through sculptural means.

To the objects

Foto, Groteskkanne in Form eines bärtigen, hornblasenden Mannes
© Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Adrian Sauer
Grotesque ewer by J.G. Kirchner c. 1731, inv. no. PE 5742
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